All bottle, can collection services to resume at Michigan stores amid pandemic

Some, not all, collection operations restarted in June

Empty bottles (WDIV)

All Michigan retailers that accept bottle and can returns must immediately resume their collection services, according to the Michigan Department of Treasury.

Michigan retailers initially paused empty bottle and can collection amid health and safety concerns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. By June 15, retailers were required to resume certain bottle and can collecting operations following a “phased reestablishment” outlined by the state Treasury.

In June, Michigan businesses offering collection services were only allowed to resume operations if they had “minimal or no person-to-person contact.” Now, as of Thursday, all Michigan retailers must resume bottle and can collection operations, regardless of the process in which they are collected.

“Retailers that typically accept bottles and cans and provide deposits will be reopening their facilities, regardless of where such facilities are physically located, serviced by reverse vending machines, staffed by employees, or some combination of the two,” reads a press release from the state Treasury.

Michigan residents can again redeem their 10-cent deposit for empty bottles and cans at any retailer that accepts returns. Stores are required to comply with safety protocols outlined in the statewide emergency order issued by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services.

Though some retailers began collecting returnables and refunding customer deposits this summer, bottles and cans have been accumulating in Michigan households since the beginning of the pandemic. Without an option to return their empties, one local recycler estimated in May that Michiganders were holding onto more than $50 million worth of containers at one point -- and that number was expected to rise by 70 million containers each week.

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Cassidy Johncox is a senior digital news editor covering stories across the spectrum, with a special focus on politics and community issues.